Debate in Greek Parliament reaches its peak as lawmakers get ready to vote the omnibus austerity bill of €5.4 billion, the last prerequisite in order to conclude the Program Review and reach a deal at the Eurogroup on May 24th.
Keys points of argument between the coalition government SYRIZA -ANEL and the opposition are the indirect tax of €1.8 billion, the new Privatization Super-Fund, increases in unified property tax (ENFIA), the retrospective return of “poverty allowance” (EKAS) by 70,000 low-pensioners – just to name a few.
In fact, the opposition opposes all measures in the omnibus bill package, even the creation of the Privatization Fund, although the New Democracy-PASOK government 2012-2014 has established the first privatization fund TAIPED.
However, problems arose also among the government, as nationalist junior partner and Defense Minister Panos Kammenos (Independent Greeks) declared that his party will not vote for the amendment to “freeze promotion and wage increases for the special payrolls” (mainly Greek Armed Forces, police, coastguard, firefighters, but also judges and doctors) scheduled 1.1.2017-31.12.2018, unless…
…there is a government commitment to implement the recent decision of State Council to restore the wages for Armed Forces at the level of 2012 plus the retrospective payment for the wage losses.
Retrospective payments for at least 4 years? That’s something the Greek government can hardly do, the moment it does not even pay back tax-breaks for employees and pensioners even if the amount is just 50 euro. The government has agreed to pay half of the total amount estimated to be 300 million euro and thus in several installments. For example, a colonel will have to wait for a retrospective payment of €7.728 since 1. August 2012. The special payrolls affect in total some 250.000 people.
Kammenos’ threats ended in the government to seek last minute “equivalent measures” worth €118million in order to ‘save’ the special payrolls. For this purpose, PM Tsipras ordered his cabinet ministers on Saturday night to submit proposals in order to replace the special payrolls loss with equivalent austerity measures.
UPDATE: Sunday afternoon, Deputy Finance Minister Nikos Chouliarakis announced that the government will have time until 31. December 2016 to find equivalent measures to avoid freezing of promotion and wage increase for the special payrolls.
the government does not exactly scrap the amendment, it only gives time to itself to find measures to avoid implementing the amendment.
In politics, giving a small gift goes hand in hand with having to give another present.
Apparently fearing strong reactions by the non-privileged Greeks of this two-class society of public and private sector, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will allegedly announce later today that 70,000 low-pensioners will not have to retrospectively return the poverty allowance (EKAS) they have received for the last 5 months..
Of course, also here, the government will need to seek “equivalent austerity measures” to fill the gap in the €5.4-billion bill. I cannot tell you the amount, but if the average EKAS is €100 per month x 70,000 beneficiaries x 5 months = Please, proceed with the calculation.
So far, there have been no media reports on how the SYRIZA-ANEL government will fill the fiscal gaps.
The speeches to be delivered by the political leaders are expected in early afternoon, the voting to start at 6 p.m.
Outside the Parliament, unionists of public and private sector ADEDY and GSEE as well as of the Communist party KKE will have gathered to raise their voices against the multi-bill.
Too bad, that workers at all public transport in Athens are on strike today and will not be able to provide transportation service to protesters. For this reason, ADEDY will offer bus service from 10 suburbs in Athens to/from Syntagma square. Public transport workers will join the protest outside the Parliament as well.
Protest or not, the hazardous ombibus bill is expected to be voted by the 153 coalition government lawmakers.
The rest is another bailout history.